You might not be familiar with what KiSS dolls are at all. This page was made for those of you who are unsure of what they are or how to use them.
Or maybe you just need a refresher of the terms after having had a long break. Whatever the reason is, you're welcome here!
What are KiSS dolls?
KiSS dolls are basically a downloadable form of interactive dress-up dolls. They can be compared to physical paper dolls, dress-up game apps or (now defunct) dress-up Flash games.
Most KiSS dolls feature a single human or humanoid character you can dress up in clothing, but there are also KiSS dolls which focus on makeup, feature multiple characters or even do not include any characters at all!
What does "KiSS" stand for?
"KiSS" is short for "Kisekae Set System". The term and format both originated in Japan. It is based on the Japanese verb "着せ替える" (said like "kisekaeru"), which means "to dress up".
Note: There are some non-KiSS dress-up games out there that also use the term "kisekae", which can be confusing when you're looking for KiSS dolls specifically.
How do I view and play with KiSS Dolls?
To open and play with a doll, you'll need software that is referred to as a viewer. Think of it as how you need an internet browser in order to open an internet site.
Some viewers offer ways to edit dolls or even create them from scratch, but some others do not offer such functionality at all and are purely there to open and play with a doll.
To find a list of the many viewers out there, your best bet is to visit the viewer pages on [ OtakuWorld ]
and [ KiSS Café ]. There is also the open-source viewer [ Smooch ], which runs KiSS dolls in your browser.
What is the difference between KiSS dolls and online/app dress-up games?
The only universally true difference between KiSS dolls and other dress-up games is that KiSS dolls are saved in a different format.
There are some differences that hold true for the majority of KiSS dolls versus the others, however.
- KiSS dolls tend to be downloadable, while web-based dress-up games are not. (Dress-up apps are obviously an exception.)
- KiSS dolls are opened with downloaded software, while online/app dress-up games are usually played with through an internet browser or are a standalone downloadable app.
(Note: The KiSS viewer [ Smooch ] is an exception;
it allows you to play with KiSS dolls in your browser.)
- KiSS dolls often allow you to drag around most items within them for custom placement. This means that you can, for example,
drag clothing over a character and layer several clothing items over each other that would be mutually exclusive options in most other dress-up game formats.
(For example: you could layer a tank top over a long-sleeved shirt or layer a coat over a sweater, but also dress the character in them separately.)
Some non-KiSS dress-ups also allow you to drag things around, but there it seems to be an Are you sure yexception to the rule.
- KiSS dolls and viewers are typically not commercial in nature. Because they are an early internet-related hobby that saw its biggest popularity in the early 00's,
there are little to no commercial KiSS dolls available, since monetisation of internet hobbies was not as prevalent then as it is now.
As a result, there are usually no ads, no microtransactions and no other commercial angles to dolls or viewers.
The only reason old sites like OtakuWorld used to have a paywall for downloading most of the dolls hosted there was to pay for website hosting.
Some sites also had ads on them, but the dolls and viewers themselves did not have any embedded.
(And even then, there were plenty of personal sites made by individual doll artists where you could find most, if not all, of their dolls for free.)
So many personal sites of KiSS doll creators are dead! How can I still download their dolls?
I mainly use the following three sites to find KiSS doll downloads these days:
- [ OtakuWorld's Big KiSS Page ]:
Probably the biggest KiSS archive out there that's still up, at least in the English online KiSS community spheres. Does not get updated anymore these days.
This site used to require you to pay for a monthly subscription to access most downloads (to cover website costs), but now all dolls are completely free to download.
- [ KiSS Café ]:
A subdomain of [ Eph's Den of Many Things ].
Contains a modest collection of KiSS dolls. It has less dolls available than OtakuWorld, as it was founded after the biggest popularity spike of KiSS dolls had already waned.
Also does not have Eph's older dolls that featured copyrighted characters up for download, due to her having become uncomfortable with them.
- [ Internet Archive (using the Wayback Machine) ]:
Not technically a site dedicated to KiSS in particular, but using it to look at archived copies of old personal sites of KiSS doll artists
gets you a surprising amount of still functioning KiSS doll downloads.
There are still some personal KiSS doll artist sites that have stayed online to this day too.
I don't think I could realistically list all of them here, but if you find a KiSS doll artist on Otaku World or KiSS Café that you like, it might be worth trying to see if their website (if they have one) is still up!
Sometimes doll artists only sent in some of their work to Otaku World or KiSS Café, so it's possible to find some hidden gems on their personal pages, too.